“With its power and lift this sail is made for the rider looking to have optimum performance in onshore conditions while still working well in all other conditions. It gets planing quickly and has the best upwind performance a wave sail can offer. The sail gives great lift for jumping, while constant drive will help you make the most out of every wave.”– neilpryde.com
on the beach
The Atlas is a great looking sail in its new colour scheme and sports the typically intricate Pryde detailing. It is exceptionally light – at 3.75kg it’s the third lightest sail of the group. Luff length is second shortest in test (to the Gaastra IQ), while boom length is second longest at 177cm. The Atlas can be rigged on SDM or RDM masts. Ours was rigged on an RDM, but unfortunately Pryde UK had no stock of X-Combat (100%) at the time, so the sail has been tested on an X6 (55%) RDM.
The Atlas sets with a relatively loose leech, particularly in the head, and a decent amount of fullness when filled with wind. When unfilled it looks like the sail may suit an SDM better as the battens sit a long way around the side of the mast on the RDM, and the sail looks quite flat until the wind fills it. NeilPryde riders are using a mixture of RDM and SDM depending on their personal preference.
There is some degree of tuning flexibility, but not as much as we remember from last year’s Alpha. This may be to do with the different mast (last year we tested on an SDM X9), or perhaps just a different cut of sail. It certainly seems a bit softer this year. We found it worked best around moderate downhaul but then using a little more outhaul to stop it bagging out too much as the wind filled it. Again, this could be the effect of using an RDM instead of the SDM mast.
on the water
Despite the slight setting differences (which could be down to the mast), the Atlas doesn’t look too dissimilar to the Alpha and as such we were expecting something similar on the water.
We loved the Alpha last year for its fantastic mix of power and light handling, so were therefore surprised to find the new Atlas feeling quite different. It feels much softer in the hands, doesn’t have quite the same efficient low-end power of the Alpha, and, at the top end, seems to hold the power on the back hand more than we would have liked.
To be honest, this just didn’t seem to stack up as Pryde is a company that generally knows what it’s doing. Not only this, but nearly every Pryde sponsored rider on the PWA was choosing to use the Atlas in Gran Canaria (albeit in smaller sizes), so the sail is clearly good. We have therefore made the assumption that the Atlas (in this size) needs either an SDM mast or a higher carbon content RDM to get the best out of it. Unfortunately this test had to be completed during our two weeks in Tenerife, and as we had no opportunity to try it with a different mast we can only speculate that a better mast would lead to a similar performance to that of last year’s Alpha.
With the X6 RDM, it is still a competitive sail within this group, but just lacks the magic of last year’s Alpha. It is one of the softest feeling sails in test and, while the power is generally delivered slightly forward of central, it gets held on the back hand in the gusts, giving it quite a grunty feeling, but not.
While still holding its own within this group, the Atlas was generally a bit disappointing in performance compared to last year’s Alpha. However, in light of the great comments we are getting from sailors who use this Atlas with 100% carbon masts, we have good reason to believe that the mast supplied (RDM 55% X6) is responsible for the downturn in performance. After all, the other sails in this group have been tested on topend 100% masts, so it’s not really a fair comparison.